The Sir Alex Ferguson era at Manchester United seems a very long time ago. It will seem even longer ago for United fans.
The legendary Scottish manager led the club to 13 Premier League titles during his reign, before retiring after the triumph in 2012/13.
Since then, United haven’t come anywhere near challenging for a league title.
That said, it took time for Ferguson to establish himself. In his first six seasons in the old Division One, United finished 11th, 2nd, 11th, 13th, 6th and 2nd under Ferguson.
But then came the inception of the Premier League and the domination of Fergie’s United. But how did he turn his side into perennial winners after some pretty underwhelming campaigns in Division One?
Well, with inspiration from Planet Football, we’ve taken a look at his first 10 signings for United in the Premier League.
And while it’s something of a mixed bag, it explains how United went on to win seven of the first nine Premier League seasons.
Pat McGibbon was Ferguson’s first signing in the Premier League arriving from Portadown but his United career was nothing short of a nightmare.
He played once - in a League Cup tie against York City in September 1995. United lost 3-0 and McGibbon was sent off. He never played for the club again and joined Wigan two years after making his debut.
Ferguson had tried to sign Alan Shearer (not for the first time) from Southampton but settled for the £1 million purchase of Dion Dublin from Cambridge United.
But a broken leg less than a month after arriving saw his United career cut short.
In fairness, he managed to carve out a decent Premier League career after leaving United in 1994, with the likes of Coventry and Aston Villa.
But his broken leg saw Fergie turn to a certain French striker from Leeds…
Dublin’s broken leg was Cantona’s gain as he arrived from Leeds for £1.2 million. It proved to be one of the best pieces of business Ferguson would ever do at the club.
Cantona scored 82 goals over the course of five seasons and helped the club win four Premier League titles, gracing the top-flight with his brilliance. Of course, his brilliance was matched by his madness - including a kung-fu kick at a Crystal Palace fan, earning him a nine-month ban.
But he returned in style but called time on his football career at the age of 30.
In 1993, United broke the British transfer record to sign Roy Keane from Nottingham Forest for £3.75 million.
It was money well spent as Keane went on to play 480 times, becoming club captain and winning seven league titles. He left in unceremonious circumstances following an argument with Ferguson but he will go down as one of the club’s best ever players.
Tomlinson made just one first-team appearance - a substitute cameo in a League Cup match against Port Vale.
However, he did remain at the club for the entirety of his four-year contract before leaving for Macclesfield Town and then Exeter City.
Ferguson signed May from Blackburn in 1994 for £1.2 million with the defender spending nine successful seasons at the Theatre of Dreams.
While not always a first-team regular, May helped United to a famous treble during the 1998/99 season - although he didn’t play a single minute in the Champions League campaign and didn’t play enough matches to earn a Premier League medal. He did start in the FA Cup final, through.
Nowadays, he can be seen on MUTV.
Another British transfer record with United signing Andy Cole from Newcastle for £7 million - £6 million cash plus £1 million-rated Keith Gillespie going in the opposite direction.
The striker had a pretty incredible seven years at the club, scoring 121 goals and helping the club enjoy arguably their most successful era with five league titles and that treble.
His decision to join Manchester City in 2005 was certainly questionable as far as United fans are concerned, though.
Nick Culkin still holds an unwanted Premier League record - the shortest debut in Premier League history.
The goalkeeper replaced Raimond van der Gouw in stoppage time against Arsenal on 22 August 1999, but the referee blew up right after Culkin took the resulting free kick.
“I felt I was ready and that was my chance to grab,” Culkin told us, “but then I went on to take the free-kick and the whistle blew. That was my Man United career done and dusted.”
A serious knee injury forced him to retire at 26.
Ferguson actually snapped up Frenchman William Prunier on trial but he was thrust into first-team action with centre-backs Steve Bruce, Gary Pallister and David May all unavailable.
He made his debut against QPR and impressed as he registered an assist for Andy Cole.
But in his second game against Tottenham, United lost 4-1 and Punier was subsequently voted the sixth-worst Manchester United footballer of all time.
Raimond van der Gouw
Raimond van der Gouw was often used as a back-up goalkeeper during his time at Old Trafford - first to Peter Schmeichel, then to Mark Bosnich and Fabien Barthez.
In six years, he played 60 times for the club.
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